Drone40, an Australian-developed expendable loitering munition, will see operational use in Mali with the British Army’s Royal Anglian regiment.
The drone, which is roughly the size of a standard 40mm low velocity grenade, will likely be used in a reconnaissance role. It will also be deployed to Poland for an exercise.
Drone40 was first exhibited at Army Innovation Day 2016 and DefendTex subsequently received a Defence Innovation Contract to fund its development. The team expanded from two people to the current number of 103, and DefendTex has since acquired Alfatron, an electrical componentry manufacturer, to localise the munition’s supply chain. The company says the Australian Industry Content in Drone40 stands at 90 per cent.
“Drone40 has evolved from a stand-alone loitering munition to be the centre piece of a number of research and development efforts including but not limited to Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence CRC, Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge and Human Machine Teaming Program,” a DefendTex spokesperson said to ADM. “Investment from Five Eyes military partners has evolved the Drone40 into a family of drones now covering 60, 81 and 155 mm derivatives with greater payload and range capacities.”
The spokesperson would not disclose the commercial value of the British contract, although ADM understands that several hundred systems are being acquired with options for continued supply.
The Royal Anglian will use Drone40 as part of Operation Newcombe, which provides logistical heavy-lift support to French counter-terror efforts and conducts long-range reconnaissance patrols to gather intelligence on behalf of the UN mission in the country.